The March 2024 Google update is set to send shockwaves through the SEO world. Dubbed by some as a game-changer on par with the Panda and Penguin updates of the past, it promises a dramatic reduction in unhelpful content and a significant shift in ranking factors.

But what’s beneath the surface of this update?

Let’s delve into some lesser-discussed aspects that hold the key to future SEO success.

1. The Helpful Content Update Melts into the Core

We all remember the September 2023 Helpful Content Update, right? While it made waves then, the March update integrates it directly into the core ranking algorithm. This means “helpful content” is no longer a standalone factor, but a fundamental pillar of how Google judges websites. Sources like Search Engine Land report that Google expects this combined effort to reduce low-quality content by a staggering 40%.

2. Dethroning Links: The Rise of Other Ranking Signals

For years, backlinks were the SEO crown jewel. The March update, however, suggests a power shift. Experts at Search Engine Journal point to comments from Google’s Gary Illyes indicating that links may not even be in the top 3 ranking signals anymore. This emphasises the importance of focusing on content quality, user experience, and topical relevance.

3. A Crackdown on Manipulative Links (But Not All Links!)

Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, link-builders. While the overall power of links might be waning, the quality of those links is becoming paramount. The update specifically targets manipulative link-building tactics and websites built solely for link selling. On the flip side, Google seems to be placing a higher value on outgoing links, rewarding sites that link to high-quality, relevant sources.

4. The Rise of the Expired Domain Slayers?

The update introduces a new signal that seems to target websites built on expired domains. While Google hasn’t explicitly confirmed this, anecdotal evidence suggests a rise in penalties for sites using this tactic. This reinforces the need for original content and established website authority.

5. A Continuous Battle Against Spam: The Update Never Ends

The March update isn’t just about helpful content; it is also a multi-pronged attack on spam. Google rolled out a series of new spam policies and bolstered its automated spam-fighting algorithms. This is an ongoing process, and SEO professionals need to stay vigilant against black-hat tactics to ensure their sites remain Google-friendly.


The March 2024 update marks a significant shift in Google’s search ranking philosophy. By understanding the nuances beyond “helpful content,” SEOs can navigate this new landscape and ensure their websites continue to thrive in the ever-evolving search engine ecosystem.

If you have been hit with a manual action following the March update or if you are struggling with your organic performance, get in touch with the team here at Digital Hothouse and let us help you to maximise your ROI from organic.

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